The Centre on Wednesday for the first time released data on the number of infections recorded after Covid-19 vaccination, calling them “breakthrough infections”.

“Two to four per 10,000 breakthrough infections of Covid-19 have occurred after vaccinations,” Indian Council of Medical Research Director General Balram Bhargava said during a briefing on the Covid-19 situation in the country. “This is a very small number. This is because of the healthcare and other frontline workers who were first to be vaccinated and they are prone to more occupational exposure and therefore this is the number. This is a very, very small number...not at all worrisome and vaccinations should continue.”

The ICMR chief also provided data on those who were infected with Covid-19 after receiving the first or both shots. Out of 93,56,436 beneficiaries who received the first dose of Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin, 4,208 (or 0.04%) tested positive for Covid-19 and out of 17,37,178 who received both shots of the vaccine, 695 (or 0.04%) contracted the disease.

In the case of Serum Institute of India’s Covishield vaccine, out of 10,03,02,745 recipients of the first shot, 17,145 (or 0.02%) tested positive for Covid-19. After receiving both shots of Covishield, 5,014 (or 0.03%) were infected with Covid-19 out of 1,57,32,754.

“The current highly transmissible second wave may also contribute little bit or miniscule to this percentage, otherwise this could have been even zero per cent,” Bhargava said.

The government’s data showed that Serum Institute’s Covishield comprised more than 90% of the 12.76 crore coronavirus vaccines administered in India. Of the 12,76,05,870 Covid-19 shots administered so far, 11,60,65,107 were of Covishield and 1,15,40,763 were of Covaxin, the central government’s COWIN portal showed, reported PTI.

Recipients in 15 states and Union Territories have only received Covishield.

During the briefing on Wednesday, the Union health ministry released a series of comparative data, highlighting that the severity, virulence and demography of the fatalities in the second wave of the Covid-19 pandemic were nearly the same as the first wave.

“In the age group 10 to 20 years, 8.07% Covid-19 cases were reported in the first wave, while 8.5% cases were registered in the second wave,” Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan said, according to PTI. “In the age group 20 to 30 years, 20.41% cases were reported in the first wave, while 19.35% cases were registered in the second wave.”

On the oxygen supplies, the health ministry said that India produces 7,500 metric tonnes of oxygen, some of which is used in industries and some is used in hospitals. “At present, we have issued orders to limit oxygen supplies only to specific industries so that more of it is used for medical purposes,” Bhushan said. “As of today [Wednesday], we have allocated 6,600 metric tonnes [of oxygen] to states. Today, we have issued another order to remove a few more steel plants from the list of those using oxygen so that they can be redirected for medical use.”

The Delhi High Court had on Tuesday asked the Centre why it was waiting till April 22 to ban the use of oxygen in industries amid a severe shortage in the national Capital, reported Bar and Bench. The court then directed the Centre to implement the ban immediately, saying “any delay will lead to loss of precious lives”.

In the last few days, the Delhi government has flagged an acute shortage of oxygen in the city’s hospitals. Supplies of medical oxygen to treat coronavirus patients in Delhi were running alarmingly low for the second day on Wednesday, with at least four top hospitals of the city saying they only had oxygen to last another few hours.

A few other states have also flagged shortage of oxygen supplies

Meanwhile, India on Wednesday reported 2.95 lakh new cases and 2,023 deaths in the last 24 hours. This is an unprecedented figure since the pandemic broke out in January 2020. The country now has 1,56,16,130 cases and the toll rose to 1,82,553.

Follow today’s updates on the Covid-19 crisis here

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